Toughie 1547

Toughie No 1547 by Elkamere

Hints and tips by Dutch

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment *****

Elkamere has a brilliant puzzle today full of slick surface readings and surprise definitions – plenty of great penny drop moments – and a few easy ones to get us started. Not only that, we have a theme involving rather more of the grid than I had first imagined. Not as hard as yesterday’s proXimal (thank goodness!) – still, it took me well over normal Toughie time and I think it deserves four or five stars for difficulty. Definitely 5* for entertainment!

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a    A picnic spread on short cold day (6,4)
CHILD’S PLAY: A 5-letter verb for spread follows (on) a 5-letter word for cold without the last letter (short) and the abbreviation for day

6a    Porridge  mix (4)
STIR: Double definition, the first referring to prison

10a    One had empty life, right? (5)
IDLER: An all-in-one – the Roman numeral for one, the contraction for had, the first and last letters (empty = no content) of life and the abbreviation for right

11a    Loner‘s serenade made public? (9)
SINGLETON: A 4-letter verb meaning to serenade, then a (3,2) phrasal verb meaning to reveal or make public

12a    A little delicate there, a little delicate (8)
ETHEREAL: Our first lurker: hidden in (a little) delicate there a little

13a    Cook: It’s awful bread (5)
DOUGH: A 2-letter verb that can mean cook, and an exclamation of disgust

15a    Men regularly called in when making predictions (7)
ORACLES: a 2-letter abbreviation for soldiers followed by the odd letters (regularly) of called inside a 2-letter word for when

17a    Cleaner put on short pants (7)
SHAMPOO: A 4-letter word for fake or put on, then the first 3-letters (short) of a 4-letter slang word for rubbish or pants

19a    Film cast presently touring city (3,4)
THE CROW: A 5-letter verb meaning cast or fling (in the present tense, since cast could also mean past tense) goes around (touring) the postal code for the London financial district

21a    Horse‘s not quite deliberate kick (7)
MUSTANG: Take a 4-letter word for deliberate or reflect without the last letter (not quite) and add a word for kick or bite as applied for example to the flavour of something you eat

22a    Copper’s awful joke (5)
PRANK: The abbreviation for pence (copper) followed by an adjective meaning awful or foul

24a    Overhaul on duty-free store, finally (8)
RENOVATE: Two-letter word meaning on or concerning, a (2,3) expression that can mean tax free, and the last letter (finally) of store

27a    Magician swallowed team up (2-7)
CO-OPERATE: The name of a comedian/magician and a 3-letter word meaning swallowed or ingested

28a    Actress‘s boast about Oscar (5)
GARBO: The reversal (about) of a 4-letter verb meaning boast and the letter represented by Oscar in the phonetic alphabet

29a    So I will cross river (4)
ERGO: A 3-letter word for I or self goes around the abbreviation for river

30a    Old city street and a girl on the loose (10)
STALINGRAD: The abbreviation for street and an anagram (on the loose) of AND A GIRL


1d    Create business at home (4)
COIN: The abbreviation for business or company and the usual word meaning at home

2d    Singer won’t start banter, being awkward (3,2,4)
ILL AT EASE: The first name of Ms Black without the first letter (won’t start) and a 5-letter verb meaning to banter or make fun of

3d    Lament for one — shut up (5)
DIRGE: Reversal (up, in a down clue) of the Latin abbreviation for “for one” or “for example” and a 3-letter word that can mean shut or free (as in free of, or shut of)

4d    Take bodies and spades (7)
POSSESS: A body of people, such as that mustered by a sheriff to go get a baddie, and the abbreviation for spades

5d    Suspend, as above ring (7)
ANNULUS: a verb meaning to suspend or cancel followed by the Latin abbreviation for ut supra (as above)

7d    Armadillo that a tourist will hide (5)
TATOU: Our second lurker, hidden by that a tourist

8d    One inferior husband has sketch to rehearse (3,7)
RUN THROUGH: The inferior one (in a litter), the abbreviation for husband, and a 5-letter word for a crude preliminary sketch

9d    Jokes about juvenile recipe for Top Gear? (4,4)
GLAD RAGS: Nothing to do with cars. A 4-letter word for jokes surrounds (about) both a word for a young man and the abbreviation for recipe

14d    Reservation for one stopping long (4,6)
FORT APACHE: “For” from the clue, a 3-letter word for something that stops (one stopping!) or plugs e.g. a barrel of beer, and a verb meaning long or pine

16d    Yellow parts match alien bird (8)
LORIKEET: A two-letter word for a yellow or golden colour is inserted into (parts) a 4-letter word meaning match, or one of the same kind, and the name of a movie alien

18d    Pair covering terminal before making wall smoother? (9)
PLASTERER: The abbreviation for pair goes around (covering) both a 4-letter word meaning terminal or final (as in coming after all the others) and a word meaning before

20d    Permit more than just fighting talk? (7)
WARRANT: Split (3,4) the answer can be read as an extreme form of fighting talk

21d    After this race, promote former F1 driver (7)
MANSELL: A 3-letter word for this race, i.e., our race or the species we belong to, followed by a word meaning to flog or promote

23d    Within a 24-hour period, losing a half grand (5)
AMONG: A from the clue, the name of a day of the week losing its second half, and the abbreviation for grand

25d    One has reduced fare, say, in front (5)
VEGAN: The Latin abbreviation of for example (say) goes inside a 3-letter word for front

26d    Agent sure to lose uniform (4)
BOND: A word meaning sure or certain loses the letter U

So many brilliant clues I find it hard to pick favourites – I particularly liked 27a, 17a, 9d, 12a, 18d – but there really were many more. Which clues did you enjoy, and how are you getting on with the theme?


  1. jean-luc cheval
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Great way to end the toughie week.
    SW took a bit longer as the Indian reservation came to me at the last minute. I wasn’t sure if 22a was a prank or a crack or even a crank at one point.
    Favourites are 8d and 15a for me.
    Thanks to Elkamere and to Dutch for the review and specially the explanation of the “as above” in 5d.

  2. stanXYZ
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    I wish I could say that I did it “just like that” but unfortunately I needed a few hints from Dutch (including 27a)

    Thanks to Elkamere & Dutch

    • jean-luc cheval
      Posted February 5, 2016 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      Doctor, It hurts when I do that.
      Well stop doing it then!
      I loved the man.

  3. halcyon
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Lovely stuff – and I agree with your ratings Dutch. I got a bit stuck on 23d [even with 2 checkers] trying to use monkey for half a grand and couldn’t see 14d until the very end. The usual quality from Elkamere but my top picks are 12a [nicely done] 24a [duty-free] and 27a [so obvious once the penny eventually drops but team up works well as a diversion].

    Many thanks to Elkamere and to Dutch for the blog [and for pointing out the role of presently in 19a – which I missed].

    • halcyon
      Posted February 5, 2016 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      ps – theme? what theme??

      • dutch
        Posted February 5, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

        For me it started with Fort Apache, Stalingrad and Shampoo (and The Crow). Then I was in for a bit of a surprise…

  4. dutch
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    is anyone guessing the number of themed grid entries?

    • Hanni
      Posted February 5, 2016 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      I thought I’d spotted them all but then I’ve just seen another. At this rate it will be the whole grid! Elkamere is a clever boy.

      Edit…OK I’ve got 11 that I’m sure of. Might need google for the rest

      • dutch
        Posted February 5, 2016 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        Yep – only one or two for which I am not sure yet whether there is any relevance

        Amazing. Just amazing.

        • Hanni
          Posted February 5, 2016 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

          Got 12 now…thanks to Google. Blimey that’s impressive to get that many in.

          Edit 13!!!

        • jean-luc cheval
          Posted February 5, 2016 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

          I don’t know what you are talking about?

          • Dutch
            Posted February 5, 2016 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

            Does my reply to comment 3 mean anything to you?

            • jean-luc cheval
              Posted February 5, 2016 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

              not really.

              • Dutch
                Posted February 5, 2016 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

                Ok another hint. The only definition that uses the theme is 19a

              • Hanni
                Posted February 5, 2016 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

                Not sure whether you saw my reply to you yesterday but did you get back OK? Jane passed on your regards, sounds like London was fun!

                • Dutch
                  Posted February 5, 2016 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

                  It has taken me all week to recover – it was just great, wish you could have been there. You’ll have to come to the macclesfield event.

                  • Hanni
                    Posted February 5, 2016 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

                    BD reminded me about the Macc meet and there is nothing on my calendar that weekend so it’s looking good. I was gutted to miss out last week.

                    • Toro
                      Posted February 5, 2016 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

                      Your absence was the only downer on a brilliant day (and night!). It would be great if you could make Macclesfield.

              • Dutch
                Posted February 5, 2016 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

                Another hint (should you want it):

                Google the answer to 1a.

        • Hanni
          Posted February 5, 2016 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

          21 is my final answer.

          • Dutch
            Posted February 5, 2016 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

            Some generosity / poetic license might allow a few more – of course you start wondering if the more tenuous links were intentional or not!

            • Hanni
              Posted February 5, 2016 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

              Oh I think they were intentional..I mean 18d? It’s just brilliant. Going to see if there are any more.

              Edit..yes I see what you mean re poetic license, homophones for a couple maybe?

          • halcyon
            Posted February 5, 2016 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

            Does that include the Turkish one?

  5. Hanni
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 4:22 pm | Permalink


    If I could give a higher enjoyment score I would.

    Brilliant from start to finish. Elegant and polished surfaces with humour and plenty of moments when it ‘clicks’ and you just smile. And then there is the theme. That is just genius.

    How am I supposed to name a favourite…? At a push I would say 12a but my goodness I loved all of it.

    Many thanks to Elkamere for masterclass in setting and to Dutch for a great blog.

  6. Shropshirelad
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Loved it – what a splendid puzzle. It has restored my confidence in my ability to complete a toughie after yesterday – I knew Dean could do it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, he is the master of hiding the definition in clear sight.

    I can’t pin down any particular favourite clue as virtually every one had either a – AHA – smile – d’oh moment. Mind, I did struggle a touch with the SW area as I tried so hard to make 16d ‘parakeet’. As in ‘par’ (match) & ET (alien) split (parts) yellow – unfortunately ‘ake’ is not yellow.

    I have only 10 of the theme (I think) so must try harder.

    Thanks to Elkamere for the lovely puzzle and to Dutch for his (I’m sure it will be) usual excellent review. I’ll read it now.

    Have a great weekend everyone. See you next week

    • Dutch
      Posted February 5, 2016 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      I suspect elkamere wanted it to be parakeet!

    • Hanni
      Posted February 5, 2016 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      I tried to make it parakeet too. Mostly because I’d never heard of the actual answer.

  7. Shropshirelad
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 5:28 pm | Permalink


    • Shropshirelad
      Posted February 5, 2016 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      Great – am now on the ‘proper page’ for commenting. 11a & 28a are / were screen performers. Wonder if that has any significance?

      • Hanni
        Posted February 5, 2016 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

        11a is also a director and writer. I hope Elkamere drops in to tell us how many references there are?

        Oh BTW…I have wine! And toffee vodka randomly.

  8. anax
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Evening all!
    Delighted that some have identified the theme. A couple of years ago I tried a ‘stated theme’ version that didn’t go down well – understandable as it required rather too much GK – but didn’t want to abandon the idea. This time it was more about coincidental links (only one required a theme definition as there was no other way to clue it), but I can’t tell you how many are in the grid because I didn’t keep count! It took a couple of days to complete and at the end there were some which may/may not have fitted the theme but I couldn’t remember.
    Great blog as ever, Dutch, and looking forward to seeing you, Hanni and hopefully some more regulars in Macclesfield.

    • Dutch
      Posted February 5, 2016 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for dropping in elkamere – awesome puzzle already, together with the theme it’s just amazing.

      • stanXYZ
        Posted February 5, 2016 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

        A theme? Wot theme?

        Now that anax/elkamere has dropped in … I hope it is now possible for you to explain the theme to us mere mortals?

        • stanXYZ
          Posted February 5, 2016 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

          So was that it? Just titles of movies?

          I’ve been searching this grid for hours looking for a nina!

          • dutch
            Posted February 5, 2016 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

            “just”…? the grid is full of them!

          • Shropshirelad
            Posted February 5, 2016 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

            Fair play stanXYZ – but if anyone identifies a ‘Nina’ or a pangram, it’s normally pointed out as such

    • Shropshirelad
      Posted February 5, 2016 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for dropping in anax – always good to see the setter taking an interest in our input on the blog :good:

      There you go Hanni – you’ve got your personal invite to a blog soirée from Elkamere no less.

    • halcyon
      Posted February 5, 2016 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      Buona sera maestro – after a while with IMDB [oh get a life] I think I have 26, including one translated from the Turkish and 2 or 3 that ought, properly, to have a definite article. There are also 2 female stars, a director, a movie company and a couple of genre names. Couldn’t do a lot with annulus though.

      • Hanni
        Posted February 5, 2016 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

        What’s the Turkish one? There is a fictional crime organisation called The Annulus…how tenuous is that!

        • halcyon
          Posted February 5, 2016 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

          Orada [There] [2009] See 12a.

    • Hanni
      Posted February 5, 2016 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for dropping in. Just an outstanding puzzle. Thank you.

      OK I’ve got 15 films. 3 that have a link/title of a film, 1 actress, 1 character ,1 job within the industry and 1 director/writer. 7d might yield another but I thought the spelling was different. That really is awesome.

      SL…Not quite an invite since I emailed him a few days ago as I didn’t know whether he needed numbers or not.

      The wine is going down well btw…well I’ve had half a glass and a bit of the vodka.

  9. 2Kiwis
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    We had absolutely no idea that there was a theme until we read the blog. Have now worked out what it must be, but it is unfamiliar territory for us. However that did not hinder us in the slightest from solving and totally enjoying this puzzle. Our very last one in was 14d and we were a bit doubtful about whether we had parsed the middle three letter word correctly, looks like we did. As all the clues are short we could not resist doing a word count as we do with RayT puzzles. 30a is the only one that has one more word than his self-imposed limit. A real challenge and excellent fun.
    Thanks Elkamere and Dutch.

  10. wolfson bear
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    I found this harder than yesterday with a few words I have never heard of (yes I did think of parakeet but never heard of the answer before) Lovely puzzle and a lot of fun

    I failed totally to spot the movie motif. Not an area for me at all. I do remember the previous Elkamere movie GK toughie which to this day I would describe as by far the worst toughie I have every started to try to solve. I think I got “Sound of Music” and that was it. It often makes me think about the use of cricket vocabulary. I speak cricket OK and there are so many strange terms it is often quite funny but I feel very sorry for those who have no interest in the game.

  11. Jane
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear – looks as though I’m going to be a lone voice in the wilderness tonight. This really wasn’t my favourite Elkamere puzzle (sorry, Dean) – possibly because the theme was rather lost on me and I struggled to get 19a & 14d.
    Still finished up with a lot of ‘ticks’ for individual clues – 1,11,12&24a plus 2&20d.
    Thanks to Elkamere – you obviously produced a winner for everyone else! – and many thanks to Dutch for an excellent blog.

  12. dutch
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    would anyone like to contribute a list of themed answers?

    • halcyon
      Posted February 5, 2016 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      Childs play, stir, lion, idler, run, sing, there, dough, oracle, shampoo, the crow, mustang, nova, opera, stalingrad, fort apache, shame, vega, ET, Garbo, Go, war, tease, glad, rags, prank

      There’s also Garbo & Tatou; Singleton the Director, Bond films, war films and Rank!

    • Hanni
      Posted February 5, 2016 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

      Also Prank (film), Ergo (film), Coin (film), Run through (rehearse?), Plasterer (something people do on sets on films) and (Clint) Mansell (composer of film scores)….phew!

      Just wow!

      • Shropshirelad
        Posted February 5, 2016 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

        I think that’s just about what I had – more or less (ish)

        • Hanni
          Posted February 5, 2016 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

          There could be more but…some rather delicious wine is being consumed with some cheese and crackers. I’m blaming you for the wine.

          N.B. See Jane..eating cheese and crackers! :yes:

        • Shropshirelad
          Posted February 5, 2016 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

          Good heavens – I now have a mature dating site advert on my page :sad:

          • Hanni
            Posted February 5, 2016 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

            I hope I’m not getting the blame for that! I’m not exactly pushing up daisies. I have NMDJ and Quintessentially. Although I’ve had some inexplicable ones!

          • Jane
            Posted February 5, 2016 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

            Me too! Do you think it has anything to do with last weekend?

            • Shropshirelad
              Posted February 5, 2016 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

              Now, now – just behave :cool:

          • Hanni
            Posted February 5, 2016 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

            What on earth did you lot get up to last weekend? :eek:

            • Jane
              Posted February 6, 2016 at 12:09 am | Permalink

              I thought I remembered quite clearly but………my advert’s just changed to one for bike tours in Sardinia, inviting me to ‘plunge in to the unspoilt and romantic beauty’ of same. I really don’t recall that coming up in conversation. :sad:

            • Shropshirelad
              Posted February 6, 2016 at 12:10 am | Permalink

              Ask Toro…. and Dutch……. and Kitty….. and Mr Kitty. One of them might remember

            • Hanni
              Posted February 6, 2016 at 12:17 am | Permalink

              Sort of regretting that I asked. I take comfort in the fact that I remain the blogs undefeated uckers champion. :cool:

      • halcyon
        Posted February 6, 2016 at 12:57 am | Permalink

        ….and “Rant” a novel by Chuck Palahniuk, is in development.[20d] So that’s just about the entire grid [apart from annulus!]

        • Hanni
          Posted February 6, 2016 at 1:04 am | Permalink

          What about 2d? I’m missing something there aren’t I? It was a joy to solve as a stand alone puzzle…let alone with the theme.

          Edit…didn’t even know about the novel.

  13. Toro
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    I thought this was nothing short of superb – and that was without properly realising there was a full-blown theme. Such beautifully succinct and unconvoluted clues, yet so challenging and rewarding to solve.

    SW corner was last in for me. Enjoyed every minute of this brilliant piece of work.

    Didn’t need the excellent hints, but thank you Dutch for enlightening me about ut supra in 5d. However, in 17a, I think the “pants” are a non-slang word that ends two letters further on in the alphabet than the one you might be thinking of! I was a little surprised to see city uncapitalised in the clue to 19a.

    • dutch
      Posted February 5, 2016 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

      thanks toro – i did consider the other pants, just wasn’t sure – trying to get in the mind of the setter may have done me no favours…

      • Toro
        Posted February 5, 2016 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

        At least you didn’t try to get into his pants… Brilliant blog and look forward to the full low-down of the theme answers.

        • Hanni
          Posted February 5, 2016 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

          That’s an interesting mental image Toro…

          How’s your setting coming along? Yes I know I asked recently but your NTSPP was just so good.

          I certainly plan on being in Macc! Not missing out on the fun again.

          • Toro
            Posted February 6, 2016 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

            That’s OK, Hanni, I appreciate the nagging! But no, I haven’t started any more puzzles. I will, I really will…

            • Hanni
              Posted February 6, 2016 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

              Sounds like your setting ethos is akin to my attitude to work on a Friday..or doing my expenses, or work on a Monday morning. I like to think I bring enthusiasm to the job.

  14. alan claxton
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    some clues are “PANTS”

  15. Posted February 6, 2016 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Anyone else getting a display (on PC) that looks like the mobile version? It’s been like this since late yesterday evening and I thought it might revert after a reboot.
    Not complaining; actually think it looks very tidy! Only wondering if it’s just my computer doing something daft.

    • anax
      Posted February 6, 2016 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      I clicked to post that comment… and everything reverted back to BD’s layout.

    • dutch
      Posted February 6, 2016 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      yes, seems to revert to a simpler “blue” version when the traffic is heavy (?) – tends to go back to normal after a few navigations.